News Cycle Time-Lapse: BBC.com vs. NYTimes.com

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Infographics are out, time-lapses are in! Why contextualize information in space when you can contextualize it in time? This time-lapse comparison of the homepages of NYTimes.com and BBC.com does just that.

Phillip Mendonça-Vieira set up a program to take regular screen grabs of the homepages of BBC.com and NYTimes.com from September 2010 to July 2011, and then turned them into a series of time-lapse videos. You can see the NYTimes.com over the full course of that period, 12,000 screen grabs condensed into seven minutes, in this post by senior technology editor Alexis Madrigal. Mendonça-Vieira also created a revealing side-by-side comparison of the two homepages. 

This excerpt from that full video shows the two homepages simultaneously as they covered the events of the Egyptian revolution from January 27th to February 11th, 2011. 

On his blog, Mendonça-Vieira notes,

The thing that stands out the most in comparison to the nytimes is how the BBC's editors behave more placidly in their content curation. Where the nytimes crams its homepage with as much information as possible, the BBC picks the most important story of the day and runs with it.

I suspect this difference comes down to a dramatic divergence in the sheer volume of content both organizations feel the need to showcase. Where the BBC is happy to file short, factual pieces, the nytimes house style seems to force them into multi page arrangements. Where the nytimes quantifies the BBC strives for brevity.

It's an interesting use of time-lapse, which we typically see applied to landscapes and clouds moving across the sky. Here we see the weather patterns of the news cycle, so to speak. He also observes, "You can see how the two sites share a large portion of photography and how quickly a subject gets dropped once it stops being news." 

Mendonça-Vieira also created comparisons of both sites during the story of the Chilean miners and the tsunami in Japan, which you can see on his website.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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